10/07/2021, 17.59
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CHRD: The cultural repression of Uyghurs continues unabated

by Li Qiang

Some Uyghur intellectuals have been arrested on charges of terrorism and separatism, their whereabouts unknown. At present, more than a thousand Uyghur intellectuals are said to be in prison, their fate uncertain. The US reiterates its criticism of human rights violation in China. A virtual summit between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping is set for the end of the year.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The fate of three Uyghur academics persecuted by Chinese authorities confirm that Xi Jinping's regime is bent on silencing the best minds of China’s Turkic-speaking Muslim minority, this according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).

The Chinese government’s narrative that it is “fighting terrorism” is an excuse to commit atrocities and suppress Muslims in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

According to research by experts, confirmed by the United Nations, China is holding or has held more than a million Uyghurs in concentration camps.

Recent media reports have highlighted the existence of labour camps in the autonomous region, with hundreds of thousands of people allegedly forced to work, especially to pick cotton.

Some researchers also claim that the Chinese government is engaged in forced sterilisation in Xinjiang to limit the growth of the Uyghur population.

For the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and the Netherlands, the Communist Party of China is engaged in genocide against the country’s ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz.

Chinese authorities have denied the accusations, claiming that the camps in Xinjiang are vocational schools, part of a plan to reduce local poverty, and a tool to fight against terrorism and separatism.

The CHRD report includes details about the disappearance of 63-year-old Gheyratjan Osman, a professor of Uyghur language and literature at Xinjiang University. Arrested in 2018, the scholar was sentenced to 10 years in prison for "separatism".

According to Radio Free Asia, Osman was found guilty of rejecting China’s “national culture", attending a seminar in Turkey in 2008, and "excessively” praising Uyghur culture.

The fate for the past three years of Uyghur actor Qeyum Muhammad, an associate professor at the Xinjiang Institute of the Arts, has also been a mystery. His colleagues do not know why he was arrested nor where he is currently being held.

Another missing Uyghur academic is Tursunjan Nurmamat, a medical researcher at Shanghai Tongji University who was arrested last April.

The Uyghur Human Rights Project has documented the detention of 435 Uyghur intellectuals since 2017. The Xinjiang Victims Database has estimated that more than a thousand Uyghur academics and professionals are in prison.

The lack of information about these detainees is a tragedy within a tragedy, but in China's police state it is the norm.

Since the current system was implemented in 2013, China has imprisoned more than 57,000 people in secret locations under "residential surveillance” where they are held without legal counsel, access to their family, and tortured, this according to human rights group Safeguard Defenders.

Meanwhile, in a meeting yesterday in Zurich with Yang Jiechi, President Xi’s chief diplomatic adviser, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reiterated US criticism of China for its failure to respect human rights in Xinjiang.

The meeting, defined as constructive by the two sides, was aimed at easing tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Sullivan and Yang agreed in principle for a virtual summit between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping by the end of the year. It remains to be seen how much the US president will press his counterpart on his government’s anti-Uyghur crackdown.

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